Cudell vintage shop West of Venus ready for an out-of-this-world reopening

A recent Co.Design story called mid-century modern décor the “pumpkin spice latte” of the design world for its universal appeal and healthy dose of nostalgia. And at Cleveland’s West of Venus, co-founders Barb and Mike Radocaj and their daughter Allie Mattis are serving up a venti-sized serving of MCM flair.

The Cudell-based vintage shop recently reopened its doors after a five-month overhaul as part of the City of Cleveland’s Storefront Renovation program. The result? A newly painted interior, new doors, new windows, and—most exciting to Radocaj—a new sign.

West of Venus
10024 Lorain Ave
Cleveland, OH 44111
(440) 669-8973

“The sign is kind of a big deal because nobody really knew we were there before,” says Radocaj, adding that the old sign is now being used as store decor. “With the big sign sticking out now, you kind of can’t miss us, which is nice.”

Judging by the large turnout for the store’s soft reopening last weekend and the reaction on Facebook to its announcement (178 likes and 28 shares as of this posting), West of Venus is already getting noticed. Currently, the store carries vintage furniture, clothing, and other various items that Radocaj and Mattis score from estate sales or customers looking to downsize.

“Right now, we carry a lot of hard goods like dressers, dining room tables, and bookshelves, but we’re working our way into carrying more soft goods like chairs and couches,” says Radocaj. “Our main focus right now is that we want to start upholstering [furniture]—it’s impossible to find people that do it anymore. It’s really a dying art.”

The 3,000-square-foot store has come a long way since its start in 2016, when Radocaj first took over the old Annie’s antique shop—inheriting not only the space, but the entire contents of the store.

A "before" photo from when the shop was still Annie's“It was very antique and grandma-like with a lot of glass figurines and mishmash stuff,” says Radocaj. “We found some cool stuff buried in the mix that we were able to salvage and keep, but we’ve also done a lot of donations and dumpsters over the last two years.”

The result is a groovy, vibrant space largely inspired by the B-52s. (The clothing section is called “Planet Claire,” and the shop’s name is inspired by the song “53 Miles West of Venus”—not to mention its tagline "A Shop For A Future Generation.") Radocaj and Mattis now have another new addition after meeting B-52s vocalist Cindy Wilson at her recent show at Lakewood’s Winchester Music Tavern. “We got her to sign one of our logo banners, which we’ll hang in the store,” says Radocaj.

Radocaj says the improvements to West of Venus are part of a larger positive shift for the Lorain Station Historic District. “Things are starting to happen there—we’re not just this little island oasis anymore,” says Radocaj, mentioning Upcycles Bike Shop, Gateway Resale & Music, and a new gym opening across the street.

Currently, Radocaj is working with the Westown Community Development Corporation to plan a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony (tentatively scheduled for May 19). “I was kind of shocked by how many people came to the soft opening,” shares Radocaj. “Now we’ll be polishing [the shop] off over the next few weeks so we’ll be ready for our closeup.”

Read more articles by Jen Jones Donatelli.

As an enthusiastic CLE-vangelist, Jen Jones Donatelli enjoys diving headfirst into her work with FreshWater Cleveland. Upon moving back to Cleveland after 16 years in Los Angeles, Jen served as FreshWater's managing editor for two years (2017-2019) and continues her work with the publication as a contributing editor and host of the FreshFaces podcast. When not typing the day away at her laptop, she teaches writing and creativity classes through her small business Creative Groove, as well as Literary Cleveland, Cleveland State University, and more. Jen is a proud graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.